Monday, December 19, 2005

How Big is Your Church?

Disclaimer: I once joined a church that had over 5,000 members. Later I joined a church that had 120 members. Most recently I joined a church as one of 6 founding members.

Joel Osteen’s much trumpeted move into the former Compaq Center in Houston (with a seating capacity of 57,000) along with an old work associate’s move into the LA Forum have got me to thinking. Can a church get too big?

On the one hand, I pray for churches to get too big all the time! Big churches should be the result of many conversions, and what could be better than that?

On the other hand, I am increasingly chagrined by the value most North American’s place on size. There is an assumed belief that if something is big then it is right. Even amongst pastors, the question, “How is the work going?” is often nothing more than a veiled query as to the number of congregants.

I don’t think the Bible teaches a “target number” for churches, but I will offer my opinion. I think a better model than erecting stadium-sized churches is starting new smaller ones. Maybe I will defend that opinion in another post, but for now, I will just offer these questions to those of you in the mega-church.

  • Do you know everyone in your church?
  • Can you reasonably shepherd the soul of each member?
  • Is the money spent in development and maintenance of facilities more then the money spent in ministry?
  • Could some people in the church be better served by planting another church closer to their geographical location?
  • Does the congregation value a close walk with God evident by a deep, personal spirituality more than boasting in the size of the gathering?
  • Would the church last if the government took its facilities away from them?